The Dardzinski Method™

Patterns of Recovery Part 1 of 2 The Dardzinski Method™ of spinal cord injury recovery is based on intensive exercise routines that target each individual’s weaknesses and retrain the nervous system to respond appropriately. The method is supported by recent studies at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and by the well-documented progress of actor Christopher Reeve. We have been working with clients using specific techniques to stimulate the nervous system and promote recovery from SCI for five years. In that time, we have found that no one recovers in exactly the same way; however there are very definitive patterns of change.

Data collected in November/December 2003 reveals that over 86% of our clients who work out on a consistent basis are recovering; the only difference is the time frame. One client may accomplish a task in one month whereas another may take a year to get to the same point. And just as important in the recovery process is the fact that clients are much healthier, require fewer medications and are becoming less dependent on caregivers to live their lives.

The following is an approximate chronology of the milestones commonly seen in recovery of clients at Project Walk™:

Day one:

Little or no controlled movement below the injury Pain from weakness or nerve pain Infections Temperature regulation problems Incontinence Requirement for high dose antispasmodics, sleeping pills, antidepressants, etc Loss of bone density

After six months in the program:

Decreased drug dependence Increased strength Increased endurance Increased well being and healthful appearance Increased nervous system response Increased temperature regulation Increased sensation Increased bone density

Patterns of Recovery

After one year in the program:

Increased strength of shoulders, trunk and legs For clients with hyperspasticity, as drug dependence decreases, controlled movement increases For clients with flaccid paralysis, increased tightness and muscle tone Joint stability below the injury Decreased dependence on caregivers Greater independence—driving, returning to work and school

After 18 months in the program

Increased controlled movement Increased coordination in movement Increased strength and muscular endurance The ability to stand and maintain joint stability Gait training Ability to work out independently and improve

After two years in the program

Functional gait Improved athletic performance Independence from caregivers

Historically, the clients at Project Walk™ who have set individual goals and persevered have outlasted the injury. One former client worked over 10 years to recover--the last two at Project Walk™--but she was able to walk! Those that have left the program prematurely have not been able to achieve the same amount of recovery. Our program can’t guarantee success, but each year it is getting harder and harder to deny that people are able to get back to where they want to be—functioning independently without reliance on caregivers, living healthy lives and WALKING!

Theory Behind Our Program

The Dardzinski Method™ Project Walk™ is a physical fitness and performance program for the nervous system--it is not physical or occupational therapy. Using the same principles of elite athletic conditioning, our program is based on performance conditioning of the nervous system.

The theory behind Project Walk™ and The Dardzinski Method™ of spinal cord injury recovery is not new. Researchers have shown in animal studies that the nervous system can reorganize itself after spinal cord injury. The difference is that The Dardzinski Method™ practiced at Project Walk™ works on humans!

We work with each client to retrain the nervous system to reconnect the signals they feel such as vibrations, spasms (uncontrolled muscle contractions), burning sensations and pins and needles. If the client has no symptoms, we try to create a change. Ultimately these signals become impulses which allow for voluntary contraction and movement.

Over four years ago our first client came to us with less than a 3% chance of recovery. He walked out of our center, and so have others. Each of these individuals has had follow-up diagnostic imaging of the damaged area of their spine. All of them still have damaged spinal cords, but all are able to control the muscles below their injury and move their legs. This shows that reorganization of the nervous system is not only possible in animals, but in humans as well. It is a very simple theory, but it is working.

Five Phases of Recovery™
Following a baseline evaluation, each client is prescribed a personal exercise routine during their first week at Project Walk™. The regimen is tailored to the phase of recovery and functional ability of each client. The Five Phases of Recovery™ have evolved from over four years of recovery training with more than 50 clients. These are the guidelines we use to teach our Specialists how a spinal cord injury client progresses from having very little or nothing below the level of injury to being able to move their legs and take steps.

The Five Phases of Recovery™:
I. Reactivation
II. Development/Stabilization
III. Strength: Eccentric/Concentric
IV. Function/Coordination
V. Balance/Gait Training
At Project Walk™, we don't believe in the labels "complete" and "incomplete", we only believe in our experiences. As clients progress, their exercise prescription becomes more difficult and challenging to coincide with each phase of recovery. We have seen our clients regain neurological function and muscular strength and endurance. We know the The Dardzinski Method™ is working.